Pakistan had been hit by one of the worst waves of terrorism in the world between 2007 and 2015. Through a number of military operations, such as Zarb-e-Azb and currently Radd-ul-Fasaad, the state was able to take back control once again and a significant decline in terrorist incidents, across the country, was observed by all. Though the decline is real and important gains were achieved, yet this menace is far from over. Sacrifices made by the armed forces has to be complemented by efforts from all sections of the society, as a united effort, to phase out violent extremism from its roots.
It would be delusional to believe that global conflicts and events would not have an impact on the local situation, but once the public is equipped with a correct understanding of the situation, taught the Islamically correct narrative with regards to it and their efforts and sentiments guided, in light of the actual teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah, then it is possible not only to minimize negative responses but to achieve benefits for both Pakistan and the Ummah as a whole.
Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif made an important speech addressing a seminar at Dar-ul-Uloom Jamia Naeemia, in Lahore last month. He said: “Terrorism cannot be defeated until the scholars play an effective role in carving out a counter narrative against the ideology of terrorists. It is for the religious scholars to present the true message of our peaceful religion. The need of the hour is to put forward the narrative of our forefathers who made mosques, the centres for peace. Extremism, is falsely being spread in the name of Islam, and the second aspect of this menace was a distorted concept of Jihad. Through these misunderstood concepts, Muslims are first excluded from the folds of Islam and later killed. People with such ideology are the ones facilitating terrorist activities. Peace is not far off, especially if the scholars extend a helping hand.”
It is commendable that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, instead of taking the Western approach of blaming Islam for terrorism while offering secular liberalism as the only counter ideology to terrorism, he pinpointed some of the actual ideological reasons behind it; the narrative of takfeer and misapplication of the concept of Jihad. Since the problem of terrorism is mainly ideological, these are critical points that the ulema must come forward to offer clarity on these subjects.
To analyse the roots of the problem, one must be able to identify the enemy and its backers. Who they are and what motive do they have to kill us?
Going through Islamic history, one learns about the Khawarij or the Kharijites. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) foretold about them in a number of Hadith traditions. The Prophet (PBUH) gave detailed description to his Ummah, to help recognize them when they appear and it is critically important to memorize the Hadith that talk about them. The most important reason, albeit an alarming one, is that the Kharijites will keep reappearing, each time they are defeated by the Muslims, and this cycle will repeat until the Dajjal, the false Messiah or the Antichrist, will appear near the end times. The descriptions about them narrated in the authentic Hadith traditions mention not only their physical traits, but how to identify them from their actions and the specific beliefs and misinterpretations they would make of the religion.
Islamic history right up to our present times testified to that. The Kharijite movement began with those who martyred the Righteous Caliphs, Hazrat Usman (RA) and Hazrat Ali (RA) and committed massacres at the time of the Sahaba (the Companions). They were defeated, yet would sprung up again time after time. This continued in the Umayyad and the Abbasid Caliphates, as well as witnessed in Andulusia and the Ottoman Era. The early scholars of Islam, the Imams, the historians and the Muhaditheen wrote extensively on the subject to help later generations of the Muslims identify them and their fitna, and be able not only to save themselves from the lure of their apparent puritanism, but to apply the Islamic rulings against them, as taught over to us by the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).
Considering themselves to be pious and self-righteous, they declared any sinful Muslim to be a disbeliever – a trademark that has always manifested itself. They considered killing Muslims, rebelling against their rulers to be Jihad and employed brutally violent tactics, unheard of previously. The enemy whose agenda they serve, through their ways, uses them against the interests of the Ummah, and they end up becoming pawns and proxies of the disbelievers. “Dogs of Hellfire”, “Dogs of the people of the Hellfire”, a description granted to them by the noblest man who ever walked the Earth (PBUH). The Kharijites would be intensely observant worshippers and displayed outward piety, yet they were termed by him (PBUH) as the “worst of creatures”, such was the intensity of their menace. The terrorists of our modern era, the violent extremists, who explode themselves in busy streets, markets, mosques and buildings, killing innocents, labelling them to be infidels, are the ones in our times, who now walk the path of the earlier Kharijites. Their “Jihad” is as invalid and sinful as was of their violent predecessors, and to defeat them once again in this era is a duty placed not only on the military and the civilian government, but on our scholars, leaders, thinkers and thereafter, the people.
Those who walk the path of the Kharijites, must be dealt foremostly by the ones who walk the path of the Sunnah.
The battle against terrorism needs to be focused on the following areas:
– Diplomatic Front
– National Reforms
Pakistan has undoubtedly led a successful military campaign against Kharijite-renegade terrorist elements. It has significantly brought down terrorist incidents and large networks have been demolished, bases destroyed and the space to operate has been largely denied to them. The operations, Rah-e-Raast, Raah-e-Nijat, Zarb-e-Azb and now Radd-ul-Fasad were not only necessary for Pakistan’s survival, but it can be argued that they were inspired by the way of Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA) who fought more than 10,000 Kharijites in the battle of Neharwan.
Successes in the operations are acknowledged by all the observers today. The sacrifices and the valour of the Pakistani Armed Forces deserves to be appreciated and acknowledged, fighting an unconventional war under such circumstances was no easy task. The United States with all its claims of being a superpower could not boast of victory against the Afghan resistance, though that was a completely legitimate defense against an invading US Army and its NATO allies, but the conditions and terrain under which the war was fought was quite similar. The Pakistan Army proved practically that it was the most capable army in the world, as the war against terrorism further battle-hardened them against their traditional foe, India.
Military operations like the Zarb-e-Azb and now Radd-ul- Fasaad must continue until the last Khariji is drawn out, either surrendering or be killed, to end the fitna and fasaad (strife and tribulation) they caused on Earth. To preserve Islam, the Kharijites as was done in history, are to be put to death for their crimes, in accordance with the rulings of Shariah, which are clear on their subject.
Every Pakistani can be a soldier in this war against Kharijite-terrorism. For instance Counter-Terrorism workshops be designed in which the public should be given training on:
– How to deal with a person who is affected by or inclined towards terrorist/Kharijite propaganda
– How to keep an eye in your surroundings
– What to do if one feels something unusual happening or observes something suspicious?
– NCC military training, with a focus on neutralizing or defending against a terrorist attack
Why is the enemy killing us? Most Pakistanis are still clueless. How can we fight an enemy without knowing the cause of enmity? Unfortunately, many sections of our government, media or society are either also clueless or have become part of the problem. In order to save the youth from getting inclined towards the misguided principles or the traps of the Kharijites, a massive awareness campaign regarding their false ideology needs to take place, addressing the core of the problem.
The government needs to take senior Ulema from all schools of thought to work collectively in countering the misinterpretations, ignorance, false methodologies, textual misquotes and fake narratives of these violent extremist Khawarij. The scholars of Saudi Arabia and Gulf, who have been particularly more successful on the ideological front to combat this ideology, must be taken on board alongside Muslim scholars hailing from the West. A combined effort to preach, spread and make common the actual teachings and understanding of the Shariah texts, refuting each notion and confusion created by Kharijites and their sympathizers, in that discourse, taking back what the terrorists hijacked, is indispensable. The modern Kharijites of our era, confuse their supporters on two different basic aspects of information.
1) Distorting and misinterpreting the texts of the Shariah, overlooking their right context and its understanding by the earlier generations of Islam.
2) Misreporting or misrepresenting current or historic political or geopolitical events, or generating fake notions regarding them to manipulate for propaganda purposes.
To achieve this, literature should be published and distributed, free of cost in every nook and corner of the country. Literature must be based on nuanced and concrete arguments that offer not only a complete counter narrative of the enemy’s ideology but the actual teachings of Islam on the subject and its correct mode of application. Apart from the Hadith and sayings of the Prophet (PBUH), the quotes, stances, rulings and detailed views of the Salaf (the pious predecessors) the classical Imams of Fiqh (jurisprudence) and the Muhaditheen (people of the Hadith), all should also be highlighted. Fatwas of trusted present-day scholars, who specialize on the subject, and are well-acquainted with contemporary issues, global conflicts and issues, must also be included, providing the Islamically correct stance to adopt in light of the Quran, Sunnah and understanding of the earlier generations, building a correct narrative upon that. Thus it must be made crystal clear to everyone that terrorism or Kharijism has nothing to do with Islam and any such organizations upon such ideologies are in fact criminals.
These credible and knowledgeable Ulema, thinkers and scholars should be invited to different colleges and universities to deliver talks on the same topic. Open question and answer sessions be conducted to address doubts or inquisitive questions. Universities, importantly need to be a point of focus. Firstly, because statistically university students have been found to be prone to terrorist propaganda, as influencing students of high calibre, is a well-planned move to gain credibility. Secondly, because these students are the future of Pakistan. They must be made well aware of the issue. If we don’t reach them first, others will.
Television programs must be conducted on a regular basis, under multiple formats, in a way that is both appealing and interesting. Media content regulation requires a lot of work, as it is a powerful medium where hostile agencies invest to gain influence or control. A focused series of programs should be started on the Kharijite ideology, covering the topic from different dimensions. Well researched documentaries, films and discussions on the topic that can help educate the masses in simple and easy terms, enabling them to reject the notions upon which the Kharijite terrorists build up their ideology.
Topics relating to terrorism, takfeer and Kharijite history should be included in the educational curriculum, according to a suitable level so that the students are able to distinguish between the false and correct narratives, and develop the right understanding of these issues.
Terrorist links to hostile agencies such as RAW, NDS or CIA is something that should be regularly discussed on all public platforms and media, it is important for people to realize not only who the puppet-masters are but to expose the so-called ‘holy missions’ on which these terrorists are upon; that in fact is nothing but destabilization of Muslim countries, at the behest of their enemies, falsely covered up in a pseudo-religious garb.
Social Media is yet another platform that has gained prominence today. Different teams, groups or factions are working in the country on different causes. A collective effort to unite different groups on a single page so that they are able to provide the correct narrative in the socio-political-religious discourse amongst internet users is indispensable. Internet and Social Media are top recruitment platforms for Kharijites of the modern era.
Silence against the handlers of the Kharijites, India or Afghanistan is counter-productive and emboldens the enemy. Without backing of these external hostile forces, the Kharijite movement would lose its base and financial support.
Our ambassadorship must be strong and raise the issue on all international forums. Pakistan should protest in UN with concrete proofs (which we have in bulk) against India. Pakistan must gather and convince its allies, especially in the Muslim World, to put economic and diplomatic pressure on all those hostile countries that finance these Khariji-terrorist organizations as proxies to realize their strategic goals.
Proofs be forwarded to all the embassies in Pakistan to make the Pakistan-position clear, that we are in fact a victim, not an exporter of terrorism. India shouts for insurgency from Pakistan without having any single credible proof. The freedom movement of Kashmir is indigenous, owned by its people. Despite having uncountable concrete evidences, Pakistan has been remained mostly silent, due to one reason or the other, weakening its stance. Indian lobbyists however spare no effort to influence the international diplomatic sphere to remain hostile to Pakistan. A tactic that complements the work of their proxies, i.e., Kharijites in the country.
Lastly, it is pertinent to understand that this is a battle of hearts and minds. Keeping in mind, how the enemy convinces people to join the ‘cause’ in the first place, and one can easily understand how to nullify the efforts of the enemy.
Religious minded youth, especially students, are targeted by Kharijite-terrorists to rebel against the rulers or the state. Exploiting their emotions by highlighting the ‘un-Islamic’ activities and environment around them, and when the youth asks what the way out is, they reply, “Jihad”. Jihad against the government, the armed forces and all those supporting the un-Islamic environment in an ‘un-Islamic country’. How should we do Jihad against our own people? By killing them everywhere, thus displaying the incapability of the “corrupt” state or government to safeguard its own. This is usually the starting point from where Kharijites convince their recruits, sympathizers or abettors to rise up and revolt.
To defeat the enemy, promote Islam. Put it into practice. Be better Muslims. The solution to violent extremism lies inside the practice of Islam, which itself is a religion of moderation, subject to the condition that we remain firmly grounded on the Sunnah. Obeying Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (PBUH) would help us overcome all challenges we face today, not just on a personal or a societal level, but at the state-level. Reiterate the fact that Pakistan is the manifestation of the ideology of ‘La ilaha il Allah’, as was envisioned by its forefathers.
Deny the enemy, its primary point to convince people for their false-Jihad which is in fact a fasaad (strife and corruption).
The rulers of the country should realize the far reaching consequences of any moral or financial corruption that is happening under them. Injustice and unfair distribution of wealth, widespread Riba in the financial system or immorality in the media, all generate a strongly negative view of the government. Whereas Islam forbids rebellion and revolt against Muslim governments, it also imposes a heavy responsibility on the rulers for which they will be sternly questioned on the Day of Judgment by Allah (SWT).
Positive steps like the Nizam-e-Salah in Islamabad was a one such idea by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. More initiatives should be taken on urgent grounds and on an increased diameter. The Ulema should once again realize their responsibility and step forward with sincere advice for the government, in light of the Quran and the Sunnah. The government also must pay heed and reform itself, give priority to the implementation of the Quran and the Sunnah, as it promises to uphold the Islamic ideology, when taking their oaths.
Reformation begins inside the home, we have a duty to implement the Quran inside our homes so that the light begins shining outside as well.
Jamat-ud-Dawah has been actively working in this domain for a good number of years. This has been one of their top priorities in terms of their D’awah or message, especially after the terrorism wave hit Pakistan. JuD, being one of the flag bearers of the methodology of the Salaf, considers it a duty upon itself to preach and spread, the true message of Islam, clarifying misconceptions, refuting distortions of by the Khawarij and help the masses and the rulers differentiate Jihad fi Sabilillah from the fasaad of the Kharijites. For this purpose, without exaggeration, JuD has organized up to four hundred thousand lectures across the country. There are over two thousand experts on the subject who are dedicated to work on this issue alone, who are travelling around and delivering talks and engaging with discussions on the topic with people every day. A council of 19 senior scholars and muftis (jurists), with an extensive focused research on the subject and a proper command of the fiqh of this issue, work with their teams that include 148 researchers, assistants and young scholars, to train, guide and mobilize them for the task. Top 57 central leaders of JuD travel across the country, delivering talks, lectures, presiding over seminars and presentations that are delivered on this topic to raise awareness among social, political and religious leaders. About 1457 top Ulema and scholars belonging to all the different religious groups, sects or sub-sects attended a JuD conference held in Islamabad, wherein they discussed the issue and made a joint commitment to raise awareness all over the country about the fitna of takfeer and khurooj (excommunication and revolt), terrorism and extremism, so that people are made aware of the traps of these Kharijite groups. Studies have shown that if people are reached before they are exposed to the notions of these Takfiri-Kharijites, they develop a much stronger tendency to reject their propaganda or be influenced by their distortions of religion, or their deficient, faulty understanding of geopolitics and affairs of the world.
This is after all an ideological war, fought with the hearts and minds before it is fought with weapons and artillery. It requires introspection just as it requires a tough military response. These steps can help guide the nation, by Allah’s Help, in completely overcoming the terrorism problem thus making Pakistan and the Muslim World safe, peaceful, stable and strong in face of its enemies.